Wednesday, May 8, 2013
There were many events along the way, some inspiring and some frankly bizarre (Nancy Walsh's infamous "take you out" speech being perhaps the most out there - click here), but that is all behind them now. Their work is finished and it moves on to the Planning Commission next for their review. And after that a final round with the City Council.
I spoke with Denise last evening and she told me about some of the things that we as residents should look for over the next year or so. The actual updated General Plan has been handed over to City Staff. It is also available on-line. It will not go to the Planning Commission until the end of the summer, which Denise felt was a long time. The ostensible reason is so that City Staff can go through the entire document and edit any typos that might be contained in the document. Something that probably could have been accomplished as the document neared completion over the last year or so. To her this delay seems unfortunate. There have been a lot of delays along the way.
Staff also has some concerns about SB375 and AB32, fusty state laws out of the now widely discredited Arnold Schwarzenegger era dealing with greenhouse gases and, oddly, development. The claim being that we can somehow build our way out of global warming. Staff wishes to compare the work of the quite expensive consultants they hired and make certain it coincides with what the GPUSC included in their work. The stated concern here being that the updated General Plan coincides with state law. Of course, there is always the possibility that certain local agendas could be at work as well.
There is also the struggle with whatever they are calling the Green Committee these days. Apparently there are certain findings of this politically imposed outfit that some persons have pressured the GPUSC to incorporate in their work. But as Deb Sheridan pointed out last evening's final meeting, the Green Whatever never presented anything to the GPUSC, choosing instead to remain aloof from those proceedings. It would therefore not be ethical to include their remote musings in the GPUSC's work.
I'm certain that politics will play a role in these matters down the road. Along with many other General Plan matters as well. There is money to be made in selling off Sierra Madre's birthright, and as is usually the case greed will attempt to have its day. That has been a constant here for years.
But these are all issues that will have to be dealt with later. Right now it is important to note that the General Plan Update Steering Committee did an extraordinary job. The dedication and wisdom from all who served on this committee deserve a long loud round of applause. When the GPUSC went from five members up to nine nobody had more misgivings than I did. And I now have to admit that I was wrong. Everyone there rose above, and everyone put the interests of this community above everything else. These are good people, and they did right by us all.
And now we must do our part by helping to protect that hard work and idealism by making certain their hard fought representations of the will of the people of Sierra Madre survives the "process." A word that for once actually seems oddly appropriate. Making sausage is a process.
And what is the will of the people of Sierra Madre? What did they say they wanted when they filled out all of those surveys at the hugely successful Community Forum meetings held a few years back? Back on September 4 of 2011 we posted those results here on The Tattler. I think it is important that we take another look at them today. As MaryAnn MacGillivray often said when this all got rolling, the General Plan needs to be the voice of the people.
So here is what the people said, and what the General Plan Update Steering Committee faithfully worked to incorporate into what is the core governmental document of our community.
Sierra Madre General Plan Update Survey Results (Sep 4, 2011 click here):
1) Provide adequate water, waste water/sewer. storm drainage, electrical, and telecommunications systems (includes wireless and better cell service) to meet the demands of existing and new development.
Very Important: 200, Important: 66, Somewhat Important: 12, Not Important: 10
2) Promote fire safety.
Very Important: 183, Important: 84, Somewhat Important: 15, Not Important: 5
3) Manage traffic in all areas of Sierra Madre so that no traffic lights are required.
Very Important: 176, Important: 59, Somewhat Important: 34, Not Important: 19
4) Increase the amount of parks/open spaces and facilities.
Very Important: 85, Important: 62, Somewhat Important: 82, Not Important: 56
5) Maintain a high level of quality recreation, leisure and social programs and facilities.
Very Important: 107, Important: 105, Somewhat Important: 63, Not Important: 16
6) Provide Gateway Coach transportation routes throughout the City.
Very Important: 53, Important: 99, Somewhat Important: 86, Not Important: 50
7) Support, maintain and enhance art and cultural events.
Very Important: 48, Important: 53, Somewhat Important: 89, Not Important: 98
8) Enhance the Library's informational, recreational and cultural offerings.
Very Important: 92, Important: 113, Somewhat Important: 70, Not Important: 18
9) Ensure that Sierra Madre is a safe place to live, work and visit.
Very Important: 257, Important: 29, Somewhat Important 7, Not Important: 2
1) Preserve and protect historical structures, facilities and other locations.
Very Important: 159, Important: 97, Somewhat Important: 28, Not Important: 3
2) Preserve the identity, image and environment of the hillsides and canyon.
Very Important: 223, Important: 51, Somewhat Important: 13, Not Important: 3
3) Minimize water erosion and construct adequate flood control facilities.
Very Important: 189, Important: 82, Somewhat Important: 18, Not Important: 4
4) Preserve water resources, the night sky and other natural resources.
Very Important: 206, Important: 64, Somewhat Important: 17, Not Important: 3
5) Preserve and protect scenic views throughout the City.
Very Important: 193, Important: 69, Somewhat Important: 24, Not Important: 4
6) Preserve Wildlife Habitat.
Very Important: 191, Important: 55, Somewhat Important: 28, Not Important: 15
7) Preserve and protect existing trees and promote increasing the stock of trees in the City.
Very Important: 173, Important: 65, Somewhat Important: 39, Not Important: 11
1) Provide housing for all income levels.
Very Important: 39, Important: 51, Somewhat Important: 102, Not Important: 100
2) Require residential development to minimize adverse impacts on the neighborhood.
Very Important: 172, Important: 81, Somewhat Important: 17, Not Important: 13
3) Encourage a variety of quality commercial/retail and light manufacturing development.
Very Important: 97, Important: 76, Somewhat Important: 76, Not Important: 41
4) Ensure that new development provides adequate parking facilities.
Very Important: 97, Important: 115, Somewhat Important: 58, Not Important: 20
5) Require "greener" construction practices even if it means higher fees and construction costs.
Very Important: 81, Important: 82, Somewhat Important: 68, Not Important: 59
6) Develop better - define rules for home additions and remodels.
Very Important: 88, Important: 98, Somewhat Important: 71, Not Important: 27
7) Encourage mixed uses (houses and retail) in the downtown area.
Very Important: 45, Important: 70, Somewhat Important: 74, Not Important: 98
8) Ensure new residential developments maintain current levels of housing density and open spaces between homes.
Very Important: 189, Important: 67, Somewhat Important: 22, Not Important: 9
9) Retain the community's character of a small village atmosphere.
Very Important: 245, Important: 44, Somewhat Important: 6, Not Important: 3
Top 10 Concerns
2) Maintain small town character
3) Develop Skilled Nursing Center
4) Thank you
5) Enable builders
6) Protect the hillsides
7) Government interference
8) No mixed use development
9) Need a grocery store
10) Encourage downtown development
What do you hope Sierra Madre will be like in 20 years?
Upscale Housing & Restaurants: 1%
Good Public Schools & High School: 1%
Art and Culture: 2%
Vibrant Thriving Town: 5%
Green community, trees, hiking, water conservation: 7%
Retain the authentic unique small historic town atmosphere with no traffic lights: 84%
One more thing. Before the General Plan Update Steering Committee got too far along in this effort, they first established what they called their Vision & Guiding Principles. These are the ideals that sustained them through three and a half years of very hard volunteer work. As these results slowly move into the next few phases of this "process"we should all try and keep them in mind.
1.) Preserve and sustain Sierra Madre's distinct character as a historic small town nestled in the foothills, but within a major metropolitan area.
2.) Ensure that Sierra Madre is a safe vibrant place to live, work and visit by providing city services that match the needs of the community and promote community engagement.
3.) Protect and be responsible stewards of the neighboring San Gabriel Mountain wildlife, foothills' forest, open space, watershed and all other natural resources.
4.) Promote and develop a strong diversified local economy and a thriving downtown commons, consistent with the needs of the community.
5.) Ensure development is done in harmony with the neighborhood, while maintaining the character of the town and without unduly burdening existing city services and infrastructure or impacting the environment.
That is what our community is really about. These principles are also key to the survival of this community as we know it today. It is time we do our part.
Posted by The Moderator at 5:00 AM